Friday, 22 May 2015

The Girl At Midnight

The Girl At Midnight
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of the publisher

Beneath the streets of New York City there is a hidden civilisation. They are called the Avicen and they are an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo was just a child, a runaway pickpocket when she was taken in by the Avicen and grew up among them, they are the only family she has ever known. Echo now survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market. 

Echo is many things, clever, daring, sometimes brash but above all, she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries old war between the Avicen and their nemesis the Drakharin crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. 

Legend has it that there's one way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird. The firebird is a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It's down to Echo to find the firebird, no easy task. But if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants....and how to take it. 
What she isn't expecting are her unlikely helpers. 
But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might set the world on fire. 

"So. Here we are. A flame-throwing thief, a deposed prince, an apprentice healer, an ex-royal guard, and a career scoundrel taking on a war on two fronts. What could possibly go wrong?"

Since The Mortal Instruments ended I've been looking for a new series to fill the gap and none have come close to it, until now. I haven't been this excited about a book since that particular series either, not that this is another TMI, it's not, okay so it's got a secret New York, but that's about it. This is very different from TMI, but is most certainly for fans of the book, it's hard to explain, but it has a similar vibe to TMI, a vibe that makes it impossible to put down and just makes you so ridiculously excited to read it. 

TGAM has all the elements I love, imagination, adventure, action, magic, a quest, mystery, humour, a vivid world, romance and a badass heroine as well as a colourful cast of characters, each as interesting as the other, whether they're a main character or a secondary character. Not to mention a race of people (Drakharin) with dragon like qualities, some more than others, and a race of OTHER people (Avicen) who have bird like qualities. So much awesome. 

Like I said, I'm not saying this is the new TMI, I'm saying, I haven't read a book that's made me feel like TMI has in ages, made me feel the excitement of each new page, made me stay up until 3am because I can't put it down, grab a few hours of sleep and then start reading again, made me wonder at the world created and totally lose myself in it, made me wish I was a character from the book, made me fall in love with the book from the first page. TMI is one of my favourite book series, my friends and I love it and are always talking about it and whenever a new one came out some of us would literally spend all night reading it and whatsapping about it while we read. I suck at picking ONE favourite series but if I had to pick, it'd probably be TMI. TGAM is the first book I have read, that has come anywhere close to inspiring the same kinds of feelings in me that I get when I pick up a TMI book for a re-read. Seriously. 

So yeah, this book is not only an exciting start to a fantastical new series, but it's the start of what's looking to be my new favourite series, my new series that I will eagerly await the next instalment of, pre-order and then spend an entire night reading so I don't get spoilered and because I can't wait any longer with it sat staring at me. A new favourite series that I will return to whenever I need a pick me up. It's going to be right up there, I can tell you now without having read the other books. Honestly, this book is my favourite release of 2015 so far, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Prepare for rambling ahead....

Echo is everything I love in a heroine. She's strong, feisty, and she makes me laugh and chuckle and I love her to pieces. I connected with her straight away, and loved her from the first page. She's tough but she's not perfect. She's a little bit hard on the outside but squishy on the inside, and she's had a tough time and that's obviously effected her, she doesn't let people in easily. Over the course of the book you see her change a lot, after the museum she struggled a little bit, I don't want to say she was broken because she wasn't really she was just dealing with a lot. You see her go through a lot and you see different sides to her and she's a very well written character with plenty of depth. She comes across as very human, she's realistic and believable as a character because of all of the above, all of the things that make her un-perfect. 

"Simmer down, Socrates, it's just a cookie"

Caius is just as damaged as Echo, he's been through even more than she has, Echo is dealing with feeling like an outcast in her own home and then everything with her real home and everything that happened there, whereas Caius also has some issues with family not quite the same as Echo but there where some. Anyway, Caius too is emotionally closed off. Caius, however, comes across quite horribly in the beginning. Genuinely, when I started reading, and we first met Caius I was like "okay, this is the bad guy who's gonna be a total evil douchebag and I'm going to hate with a burning passion" then a few chapters later I was like...."dammit he's my fave". Then from there Caius just kept changing and developing, as his walls dropped and he became less stand offish and you got to know him better along with Echo, and you started to like him more and more until he's pretty much your precious flower and he's totally adorable and really sweet, and you vaguely remember back in the beginning when you thought he was gonna be the evil bad guy and you remember it like it's 100 years ago. So yeah, I loved Caius too hahahaa. 

Dorian's character development also deserves a mention because it was a thing of beauty, I'd be more specific but I don't want to spoil things. I'm just excited to see where his character is going to go now!
Jasper, well I loved Jasper, he made me laugh so much, just as much as Echo did, and the way he was with Dorian just....*sigh* and also *evil laugh*

Ivy, I'm looking forward to seeing more of Ivy because I'm waiting for her to get her awesome hero moment and to get more of the spotlight. I liked her, she was another strong character, she was badass in her own way. After everything with Dorian...she still helped him. She comes across as quite calm and level headed as well. She's also a really good friend to Echo, and I love her and Echo's friendship, it was the definition of true friendship to be honest, they most definitely fit some of the tumblr memes and things about "real friends..." haha 

So it's safe to say that each and every character is well written, with plenty of depth and background making them who they are, no matter whether they're a main character or a lesser character. Each character has their own distinct personality, each character is different and each character develops so well over the course of the book. Each character makes you want to know more and more about them and their lives. 

The world is rich and colourful and imaginative and it's so vividly written and created that it sucks you in and blocks out the real world, you can get totally lost in this fictional world that is also kind of real because you know...New York. But we don't STAY in New York, there's a cathedral in Strasbourg, jaunts to Japan and a few other locations, and each and every setting is written so that you can clearly picture the place, and feel like you're there. Which didn't really help with my whole, I want to travel vibe! Anyway, the book, the world, the settings, the scenes, they're all very cinematic and atmospheric, and each setting has a different vibe, and all of this combined with the plot and characters help to suck you in. 

The mythology of the world is rich, enchanting and detailed, and I love it when there's loads of cool and original mythology for a world. You get so much information about these two peoples and their past without being bogged down with pages and pages of information, it's all woven in to the narrative and dialogue perfectly, but I still left the book wanting to know MORE! I was literally so fascinated by the mythology and history of the peoples of the book and their world. Like the Echo right?! That kind of thing. I soaked up every bit of information in this book and I'm excited for more in the next one.  

"First One-Eye, now you. Am I being stalked by the cast of America's Next Top Dragon?"

The book is multi POV and it's the best kind of multi POV to be honest because it was so well done! First of all, the POV's are mostly Echo and Caius but there's a few bits from Dorian and Ivy and Jasper, all of which are interesting and add more insight to the characters, than just hearing about them from Caius and Echo. Each change is smooth, engaging and  each character has a different and distinctive voice and not just in narratives either. I mean I'm sitting there reading Tanith's lines in my head and doing them all smirky and evil (I don't know why I do evil characters with British accents, especially considering I'm British) because I can practically hear how they should be said, and then Echo all american and snarky and casually delivering hilarious lines.

I know it sounds weird, but it's an acting thing and sometimes I do it automatically instead of you know...just reading. Seriously, I've been known to read books and pick a character and say their lines and include accents and everything, to stretch my acting muscles and I promise you it's a serious acting exercise we got taught to do! Except with this book it was too hard to pick one character because they where all so richly created.  

Secondly, you get both sides of the story from the different POV's, the Avicen side and the Drakharin side, not just of the whole conflict between their peoples, but the search for the firebird and the motives and so on. Caius for example, wanted the locket back because of who it belonged to, (which made him seem more human when you still thought he was the bad guy). Both he and the Avicen wanted the bird to end the war for their people. You could see both view points and understand both peoples, which in the beginning, is what made it so hard to keep seeing Caius as the bad guy. Tanith problems there, she is the big bad after all. 

Thirdly, the scenes kind of crossover, so you'll be in one scene and the character will look over at another character in time to catch a character reacting to a conversation that happened in the POV immediately before. So you don't get double dialogue, you just get crossovers and little moments like that. It was seriously, very well done. I'd do better if I explained it in filmed terms to be honest, but none of you are here for me getting in to that and those specifics! I also liked how there'd be moments when something would be said in one POV in one conversation, and then be referenced in another POV like a TV show and the POV changes are different shots. It added to the cinematic element. 

The writing is slick, and the story flows nice and smoothly, there's action from the start, the very first page, and then all the way through keeping you captivated until the very end. There is never a dull moment, which makes it super hard to find a place to put it down, I was like "one more chapter before bed...just one more to see how that plays out, or what's going to happen next". There's always points where you go "OOOOOOHHHH" as a puzzle piece falls in to place, and each chapter ending leaves you wanting more, which is why, like I already said, it was hard to find a place to stop. Which is why I found myself starting to read at 12am, and then the next thing I knew it was gone 3am in the blink of an eye! 

I could have red this in one sitting easily, but I did have to sleep. I kind of wish I had been able to read it in one go because it was so excruciating to press pause and put the book down, I was thinking about it and eager to get back to it whenever I wasn't reading it. But at the same time, I'm kind of glad I got to drag it out and spend longer in the world with the characters. That's the kind of book this is. The kind you can read in one sitting, stopping only to pee, but you don't want to because you don't want it to end. 

"He was trying to make small talk. What fresh hell?"

The book is a proper quest type book, there's maps to follow, clues to work out, traps, mystery and everything that makes a good quest. Plot wise it's seemingly quite simple, to save their respective people, a group of enemies turned allies must follow the clues to find the firebird and end the war. But it's actually so much more complex than that. The book has some very detailed politics for both worlds that are all brought in to play and are going to effect the firebird discovery and search. There's power struggles, people trying to get along while dealing with all their emotionally damaging personal stuff and so on, 
I'm making it sound so serious, and it is, but there's so many times I found myself laughing out loud or trying to restrain myself from laughing in a public place. The humour in this book is so on point, and being a snarky person myself, I was pretty much cackling at some points. 

Romance. Ah the romance. The romance is subtle. It's there, and it becomes more obvious at some points and then towards the end, but for a large part of the book it's very subtle. Even when it's all obvious and out in the open, it's still secondary to the plot, it just adds some interesting dimensions to the character and the story. 
Now, let me tell you about my ships. 

I ship Jasper and Dorian SO HARD. Do not get me started on that time when something happened and I spent a good few chapters thinking the worst like "OMG NO WHAT YOU DIDN'T JUST..." kind of bad before I reached the "oh never mind, s'all good, I didn't panic" part. Don't worry Melissa, my feels will recover in time, and my heart....and my trust. (I'm just kidding!). I'm SO excited to see how this plays out because so far it's so well done, and you're kind of sitting there wanting to prod them together while you read and you're like "DORIAN SERIOUSLY". But yeah. I'm waiting. Impatiently, but waiting. 

Do not even get me started on how badly I ship Echo and Caius. Sorry Rowan. (What even happened to Rowan? Poor Rowan) It's not that I don't like Rowan, it's just that he seemed okay in the beginning and I was excited to get to know him and watch the romance and everything, he was the best friend before he was the boyfriend and everything, and I wanted to see their relationship. But we didn't get to see too much of Rowan or get to know him at all, although I feel like the author's done this on purpose and then next book we'll get load of Rowan, which would mean less Caius which is boo but Rowan intrigues me, I'd like to say if that happened I'd find it hard to choose between the two but I don't think I will haha! Rowan, at one point, didn't even defend her and they've known each other since they where kids and he just kind of stood there. Caius who'd only known her a few days was essentially doing Rowan's job, protecting her. So yes. I am firmly Team Caius. 

Caius just seemed so mildly terrifying in the beginning but then you get to know him and you see he's actually kind of broken from all the bad stuff that's happened to him, and he's actually quite sweet and kind of perfect and very sigh inducing and it's really hard not to shop him with yourself. I mean echo. Yes. 

Anyway, I enjoyed the fact immensely that this romance between them slowly developed and came to life, and then there where some warm and fuzzy "AWWWWW OMG" moments and then Echo kind of backed off a bit because of some personal things. The romance would still be there, but it wasn't all something romantic happens, and immediately they're together and then it's happy relationship land for the rest of this book and the other books. Almost immediately there's a problem, and then there's obstacles to overcome, and it's just not going to be an easy journey to the two of them being together. Especially with Echo feeling torn about her family and where she belongs and what her family would think of her. But they work so well together! Neither of them lets people in easily and then there they are! They where literally so cute together, and I was all like "aaaaghhh no" whenever something would happen, either one of them drawing back or a new obstacle. I just wanted them to be together haha! At the end I was like "sooooo are they together now or?". 

"Can we get this show on the road? I have places to go, people to steal from, you know how it goes."

Regardless of whether they are or not I get the sense that it's going to be a relationship or a journey to a relationship that's going to have a lot to overcome until they finally get their happy ending. Especially as Echo needs to deal with a lot before it can be all sunshine and rainbows. Which also makes the romance quite interesting, that and the chemistry between the two. But I ship them so hard, and it's going to be interesting to see where it goes. Especially considering the Rose element and the fact that Rowan could pop up more in book two. 

Rose needs to just not. Like when it got to the bit about her and you read what happened, (I don't like her) then in your mind the repercussions are piling up and you're not sure which ones are going to be relevant. Like the Rose thing is going to effect my ship goddammit! Rose is going to bring some heavy and annoying doubt. 

It's going to add an interesting element, the whole "Who's really feeling this? Is this really my feelings" thing. For me, the romance is done, I have my ship, I'm waiting for them to get their happy ending. For the book in general, this could possibly open up an interesting love triangle, rowan the best friend and boyfriend I'm assuming will get a shot in the second book, he didn't impress me this book though! And then there's the whole obvious attraction to Caius but the doubt because of Rose. It'll be a very interesting and well done love triangle that makes sense if it goes that way.

It's going to add an interesting element, the whole "Who's really feeling this? Is this really my feelings" thing. For me, the romance is done, I have my ship, I'm waiting for them to get their happy ending. For the book in general, this could possibly open up an interesting love triangle, rowan the best friend and boyfriend I'm assuming will get a shot in the second book, he didn't impress me this book though! And then there's the whole obvious attraction to Caius but the doubt because of Rose. It'll be a very interesting and well done love triangle that makes sense if it goes that way.

The entire book is fast paced and action packed, but the last 60 or so pages, it really ramps up and things are kicking off and there are some really OMG NO THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN *SCREAMING* *THROWS BOOK* moments that you don't see coming, the book was full of twists and turns, and surprises and shocks like DOES THIS MEAN WHAT I THINK IT MEANS type things and "oh snap" moments, but the big guns really came out at the end to make you even more desperate for the next book, which is just MEAN. It's a hard enough wait as it is!

I found it interesting that there was a clear difference between the two people. Drakharin seemed all about the blood and violence, Tanith in particular, they seemed more brutal and stiff and formal, even when growing. The Avicen in contrast didn't appear as bloodthirsty. They didn't seem to be the antagonisers. Although Altair's a total d*** and totally shady. Echo's story is when it really hits home, with Ruby being the standard mean girl, it made the Avicen seem normal despite their feathers. The Drakharin are definitely odd school though. Although, the Avicen being prejudice to Echo did get my back up on her behalf. It seemed very firmly, the Drakharin are the bad guys, they're all murder happy, we're just defending ourselves and we didn't do anything wrong. But I'm curious as to whether that's really the case, the Avicen just seem too...squeaky clean, if that makes sense. 

"'What will you do?' 'The same thing I've always done. Run when I have to and fight till the end."

The ending though. The most BADASS final line ever for a book. Perfectly set up the rest of the series in the last few chapters, while concluding this book perfectly and without sacrificing the plot. Plenty of surprises and originality until the end. The colour of the fire? So my kind of thing. The ending leaves things concluded, in the sense that they've found the firebird and things have been resolved, but still open, there's a war to stop, and they have to go on the run. So you have a vague idea of what's going to happen next, but at the same time not really. Kind of the perfect ending. 

Leaves you wanting more without an unbearable cliffhanger of angst. Although I'm impatient and I loved this way too much, so the wait for the next book was gonna be excruciating for me cliffhanger or no. But yeah, perfect ending, badass line from Echo, book two set up, and book one wrapped up with a few threads to take us in to book two. 

Sorry for the rambling guys, rather than a review this has become a huge fangirling, talking out loud type post, but I was typing "notes" that ended up being way too detailed, as I was reading, and every time I'd be done reading it for the day I'd type up some notes that where more detailed than they should be and thus this is practically a novel. (Although if you do want to discuss the book with me feel free to pop me a message or comment!)

So. TGAM is a fantastic debut and an epic start to a new, original and action packed series that will keep you on your toes until the very end. Full of twists and turns you'll never fail to be surprised, the world will pull you in and keep you engrossed until the very last page. I would suggest arming yourselves with supplies before you start reading! There's characters you'll love and characters you'll love to hate, and endless amounts of humour. TGAM is a combination of many different elements that have come together to create an enchanting and magical read. 
I'm just gonna leave you guys with this beaut quote though...

"Sometimes, when I'm feeling sad, I like to be around all these books. They're very good at making you forget your troubles. It's like having a million friends, wrapped in paper and scrawled in ink."

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is some review! I love how much thought and work you must put into your reviews, it's great that you have so many thoughts on a book! :) This book sounds great, I love the cover and the "Magic lives in our darkest corners" tagline - very intriguing! Will look out for this one :) xo


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